Please link another thread if there is one, but I couldn’t seem to find it (most seem to ask the opposite question).
My dilemma is that I struggle to maintain weight at a certain training load and I am looking for suggestions / advice based on others experience or knowledge.
I am 6ft, (ideally) 75kg, and an all-arounder rider type. I typically ride 8-10hpw avg, but have recently crept up and maintained 10-12hpw for the last 6 weeks. This caused me to shed a solid 1.5kg (presumably all muscle since I am already very lean).
I haven’t had any noticeable loss in power, but I imagine that’s on the horizon if I drop at or below 73kg. I weight train heavy 1 day per week and do 2 key longer rides with intensity mixed in. I do notice somewhat of a loss in power in the gym, not that I can’t lift as heavy, but that it’s relatively harder to do so. Tho I say I haven’t seen noticeable power loss on the bike, I also haven’t retested any of my all put effort durations. At 75kg, I have recent numbers (past 6mo) below:
I do not want to lose my high end power for a higher ftp. Just not worth it IMO or at least for myself. I like being able to put in big digs - plan to race CX post Covid.
My question is what do you do to maintain or gain weight? Eating more is the obvious answer, but honestly it’s pretty tough. I eat lots already and sometimes just don’t feel hungry and have to kind of force myself to. What the heck do Pro’s do to keep from being skeletal training 20-30hpw?! I don’t do any supplements so just eating real food atm. Many years ago when I was racing competitively, I had this same thing happen (down around 70-71kg). I definitely had some ‘disordered eating’ then, but now it’s not the case at all (at least IMO). Any suggestions or advice welcomed. Please share any of your own experiences as well!
Have you tried increasing the calorie density of what you eat while maintaining the overall volume? Diet soda → regular soda. PB Fit / PB2 → real peanut butter. Higher fat meats / fish. Spinach → higher calorie veggies. etc.
Not that I have the same problem as you, but I find I can only eat so much volume. On low-calorie burn days I shift to low calorie dense foods (so I can still feel full and satisfied) and on high-calorie burn days I shift towards higher calorie dense foods.
I currently do that. Now I don’t take anything with added sugar (at least that I can avoid), but I do take everything with full fat (whole milk, whole milk yogurt, etc). Been trying to eat fast food burgers every night, but I don’t think it’s a long term solution lol
That’s a great way to end up with coronary disease. Don’t do this. Hope you’re joking.
Hard to give advice when you don’t list out a day in the life of your food intake. You say a lot, but what does that mean? Can you log your intake for a couple of days to give us an idea?
When I train hard I eat a TON, and graze throughout the day. My weight stays pegged between a 1-3 lb range and I’m training around 8 hours per week and have an avg KJ burn of ~5100 avg the last 6 weeks. I reckon I’m eating well over 3,000 cal/day during that time.
Like was said, increasing calorie density is vital for me, including high calorie snacks. This means instead of some carrots or salad, I’ll have a bowl of rice krispies with a banana or an apple with a VERY generous helping of peanut butter, maybe 600-800 calories. It’s really easy for me to get down cereal in general, so if I can eat an extra 2 double serving bowls of cereal per day that’s an easy 600-800 calorie get that doesn’t fill me up very much.
Fueling around the workout is also crucial. If you can take in 90-100 grams of carbs per hour during, then get in a 400+ calorie recovery shake and follow that up with a hearty meal (say, for a lunchtime workout) that’ll go a long way.
Ok so I will give a typical day.
1st meal: ~800-1000cal smoothie (strawberry, bananas, milled flax, whole milk, whole milk Greek yogurt, whey protein powder, oats)
2nd: ~1000cal. Two PBJ on wheat, chips, apple.
3rd: 200-400cal on the bike nutrition (fig bars, granola bars, and/or sugar water)
4th: ~800-1000cal whatever is for dinner but it’s typically meat/fish, rice/pasta/potato, and some veg.
5th: 500-800cal typically some toast w spread, toast w cheese or a big bowl of Cheerios w walnuts, banana, milled flax, and whole milk.
I have made 5 into 2 burgers and fries which is like 1000-1200. I haven’t been doing this for long and not every night but that’s where that would fit in.
So I guess that’s a min of 3200 to max of 4200. I don’t literally eat the same thing every single day (besides the smoothie),
But this is a pretty typical ‘day in the life’ snapshot
Average kcal per week since June 1: ~7000kcal/wk
Average ‘load’ per week same time frame: 423 /wk
This doesn’t give load or kcal for gym work so maybe add 500per week to the avg
What kind of food do you eat on the bike for the kind of carb/hr?
An after workout shake is a good idea that I used to do but haven’t lately. Do you do a regular protein shake or a ‘meal replacement’ shake
I no longer eat any solid foods when training on the bike. Can’t eat oats or wheat which really limits options anyway.
First source is a homemade mix of 1:0.8g maltodextrin to fructose, which I buy in bulk (30-50lb bags, corn based). I add either 2tbsp of lemon juice or 1/4tsp citric acid to a 24oz bottle with 90 or 100g sugar mix and drink one of those per hour. I still haven’t found a sodium source I like yet, so for now I’m getting sodium from hammer nutrition salt pills. Not a heavy sweater so it’s not a big concern for me.
Second source is Flow Formulas drink mix. Essentially the same as my DIY solution but they have good flavors at the expense of being a touch sweeter because of the agave fructose used. Flow has no corn, all organic, and includes salt, which are not really concerns for me but I like to mix it up with flavors.
For recovery, honestly what Foodpedaling posted above sounds great. I don’t need to go quite that big on the recovery shakes, but it sounds like you might. I do
1 cup frozen berries or dark cherries
1 scoop flow formulas vanilla recovery mix
A bit of whey protein.
Water (lactose intolerant, don’t like the taste of milk, and can’t have oat milk )
The flow recovery mix has tart cherry powder, sugar, and pea protein in about a 4:1 carb to protein ratio. It’s not cheap and I like fruit so I replace half the protein with whey protein and half the carbs with fruit. Still get that awesome vanilla bean flavor and plenty of quick sugar with a little more whole food in there.
I do this smoothie after every single ride, easy or hard, because you always burn calories even on easy days and it’s just money in the bank for future workouts. If I’m at a race or just drive somewhere else to do my workout, I’ll make the smoothie beforehand and store it in a double walled thermos. Great thing to look forward to after workouts.
Edit: Just saw your meal plan. Assuming 2 hours of riding per day, if you can squeeze in an extra 400 calories with more sugar water, you’ve just eliminated the need to swap the desert snack with fast food. Add big smoothie in after the ride, mostly carbs with a little protein, and now you’re up 400-800 calories. I think your foundation is really solid, if you can just squeeze in a little more sugar during and post workout that may solve your problem. Also, may be worth talking to your doctor. Us nerds on the internet can give diet recommendations all we want but it sounds like you’re already eating a ton and there may be other factors at play.
Maybe a stupid question but are you consistent with the time of day you weigh your self? Your weight will naturally fluctuate by a kilo or two during the day (you are typically at your lightest just out of bed).
I weigh myself the same time every day in the morning before I drink anything. My weight always fluctuates 1 to 3 pounds from day today regardless. It’s mostly just water weight or it’s before I use the bathroom. The monthly averages are what I keep and eye on. This is a good thread for scales that keep rolling averages…
You may be pleasantly surprised how well peak power hangs around during weight loss and higher volumes of training. It’s as much of a skill as a strength/power issue.
As in, you may not need to be concerned at all about the ≥1.5 kg loss causing peak power drops. I have not seen strong evidence for this peak power loss outside of truly elite sprinters. (≥22W/kg folks) And truly, I’ve only seen evidence for this loss happening as a result of the fatigue caused by kcal deficit, rather than muscle loss, though it’s very hard to tease those apart in real world humans competing at an elite level.
If you are convinced you’d like to maintain your weight (not a bad thing at all), here’s my recommendation:
More sugar during training should do the trick. Consider it. Especially if you’re interested in peak power preservation. Higher-carb diets are highly conducive to producing big short-term powers from 5 seconds to 5 minutes.
The weight loss during training more hours per week may just be glycogen depletion anyway.
Yes consistently weight right when I wake up about the same time daily. Also I am conscious weight can fluctuate from varying hydration. This loss seems to be solid. Might have occurred over longer than the past 6 wks, but it’s a downward trend nonetheless
How much weight on average could you lose before experiencing these losses, do you think? Years ago when I was like 70-71kg, I had about the same FTP (that is, about the same absolute #, higher w/kg), but def less top end power. It wasnt like night and day, but it was probably 10-15% less if I had to guess (idk the actual #s and my intervals.icu only goes back to 2019).
Gaining explosive power alongside gains in weight does not mean that you will lose that power when you lose the weight.
I have had a few athletes experience similarly. Gain weight, gain power, lose weight, keep power. Doesn’t always work like that but DOES at least as often as it doesn’t.
Bodies are funny. Lots of variables at play. Homeostasis is a strong force.
I wouldn’t make any changes to intentionally regain weight. Just maintain it. If losses continue, I wouldn’t panic either, unless you’re experiencing reliable negative changes in power, or are experiencing other negative symptoms related to unintended weight loss.
Your weight loss probably has occurred naturally over a long term but sudden weight fluctuations (outside normal day to fluctuations) can be the sign of something else. Get a blood test to rule it out. That said, I had that something else and the classic sign was sudden weight loss but my weight was stable and if anything I was gradually gaining it